Since this weekly entry—really, this entire blog—is about helping other Christians grow, let’s start this week by reflecting on our own journeys so far. Think about a time where you experienced a huge “growth spurt” in your life. If you can’t think of a spiritual example off the bat, use an example from your professional life or another personal example.
Got an example in your heads? Good. Now, think about this:
• When did you first realize that you’d somehow taken a giant leap forward? What was different?
• Who helped you most in taking that leap? What did he or she (or they) do to keep you moving forward?
You just reflected about an important time in your life, and the people who helped and maybe even inspired you. It probably felt good just to think about those people again. But as good as those people made us feel, it’s even more rewarding to be that person—to know that God has truly used us to help someone else.
Any work we do that has eternal value involves other people—whether it’s by serving them, praying for them, being a good parent, or simply being a good friend. Everything we do can potentially have an eternal impact on others. Think about it: How others have loved you—or failed to—is part of the reason you are who you are today.
Dallas Willard, in The Divine Conspiracy, put it this way: “Nondiscipleship is the elephant in the church…. The fundamental negative reality among Christian believers now is their failure to be constantly learning how to live their lives in The Kingdom Among Us. And it is an accepted reality.”
When we think of discipling others, it’s also easy to get caught up in thinking, “I can’t do this” for whatever reason—“I need to learn more first”; “I need to accomplish more first”; “I need to have more credibility with that person before I open my mouth.” And these might well be things you need to work on. But very often, we use these issue as or unnecessary roadblocks to ourselves. Most of the time, it’s only fear of the unknown that holds us back. We make it about what we think we can do, rather than about what Jesus commands us to do, and what he promises to do as we step out in faith.
Therefore, the first and maybe the biggest step to becoming an effective discipler to simply to show up—and make the most of the situation God’s called you into. God’s brought you through a lot already, hasn’t he? More than anything, that’s what God wants to show others through you. Not your perfect answers or your unbelievable heart, but what God’s done—and therefore, what He can do for that other person, too.
Who do you know who seems ready to take the next step spiritually—whether he or she’s already growing, a brand-new Christian, or a not-yet Christian? If you could help that person understand just one thing right now, what would it be? And if you’ve already shared that one thing with him or her, what do you think that person needs to really “get” it? If you haven’t shared it yet, what’s held you back?
Now consider this: How could spending more time with that person help you grow closer to Jesus?
Some people might hear the words “accountability” or “discipleship” and say, “I’m in. When do we get started?” It’s more likely that many will be intimidated by that kind of talk. So don’t bash people over the head with this. Invite them out to lunch or a cup of coffee for starters. Talk about their lives and the things that are most on their minds and hearts right now. Then ask whether he or she might want to make a regular time out of it. Most people will accept if they know you’re serious and don’t feel overwhelmed by the commitment. A weekly time together is best, but if schedules only allow for bi-weekly or monthly, that’s OK. Start there and see where things go.
You can even say something like, “I’ve been reading this blog about discipleship, and I’d like to try out some of the things I’m learning on a real person. You’re a real person—would you mind helping me work through this?” Once they’re done laughing, they’ll probably say yes.
The important thing is to make it happen. Begin to share what Jesus has done in your life. Help people see that a changed life is possible. Starting with yours.